7 things you need to know ahead of the start of the F1 season
It’s all change in Formula One this season; see how the action unfolds at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend using the DStv Now app.
The sport has introduced new regulations, Ferrari have a new driver, Red Bull have bought a new power unit, several rookies have seats, Sauber has been rebranded, and Fernando Alonso has departed after 17 years in the sport.
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7 things you need to know ahead of the start of the F1 season:
Ferrari impressed in pre-season testing, with many analysts suggesting that the new car may have a few tenths of a second per lap over the rest of the pack. One of the storylines to watch will be how new star Charles Leclerc stacks up against Sebastian Vettel, who is one of the favourites for the title.
Red Bull are also expected to be in the mix. Max Verstappen is still just 21, but he is entering his fifth season in the sport. But it is at the back of the car were the most interest lies, as Red Bull have switched to Honda power after a messy divorce with long-time supplier Renaut in 2018.
Lower down the grid there has also been movement, with Daniel Ricciardo swapping Red Bull for Renault. The Australian has joined the French outfit in a bid to help it become a leading team, but it will be a challenge for him to become the first Aussie to score a podium in a home race.
Elder statesman Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile has returned to the team that gave him his debut in 2001, though it is no longer known as Sauber, having been rebranded Alfa Romeo in the European winter.
Nearer the back of the grid McLaren, Williams and Toro Rosso have all decided to invest in youth, with the exciting rookie trio of Lando Norris, George Russell and Alexander Albon set to make their debuts in Melbourne.
Fans will also be keen to see how the new regulations affect the cars. Larger but simpler front wings have been mandated to minimise aerodynamic wake and this coupled with a larger DRS flap should in theory spice up the show to make overtaking easier. Fernando Alonso has been a vocal critic of racing in recent seasons, yet he won’t be around to find out if they work after deciding to take a sabbatical.
Yet at Mercedes, the team that has dominated F1 since 2014, there is still a sense of stability. With an unchanged driver lineup in champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, the German outfit are expected to put up a fierce defence of their drivers’ and constructors titles. And a win for the Silver Arrows in Melbourne will show that, in F1, the more things change the more they stay the same.
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